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Thursday, June 20, 2024  
13 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Why cypher case was only registered against Khan, IHC wonders

Says others did not return copy of diplomatic cable

A two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court wondered on Thursday the reason for the cypher case only against former prime minister Imran Khan when others who received the copy of the diplomatic cable did not return it.

This came when a bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb took up Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s petitions against the punishment in the cypher case.

In January this year, a special court established under the Official Secrets Act handed both suspects 10 years in jail for leaking official secrets.

The case relates to a diplomatic cable that allegedly went missing while in the PTI founder’s possession. Khan publicly cited the cable as proof that the US had been part of a conspiracy behind his fall from power in 2022 but he denied taking it from the foreign affairs ministry.

In media interactions, Khan described the trial as “a joke” and a sham. But many in the party started to hold hopes when the IHC this month suspended the 14-year sentences handed out to Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi in the Toshakhana reference.

While raising the question on the cypher case, the IHC bench asked the prosecutor whether it was fine if others kept the diplomatic cable.

The prosecutor replied that others returned the copies, however, they were aware of the fact that Khan lost the copy. He claimed that the PTI founder deliberately kept the copy with himself and did not return to the foreign office.

In counter, the bench told the prosecutor that he would agree that such two accusations could not be made at the same time.

FIA’s special prosecutor Hamid Ali Shah informed the court that Khan intentionally kept the cypher with himself when it was presented to him. He claimed that the former PM negligently did not return it.

At one point, the IHC chief justice asked him about the definition of making public. He told him that the diplomatic cable was not present on the record of the court.

Justice Aurangzeb asked about the person who received the cypher and added that the receiver should know about the consequences of keeping such a document. The premier’s principal secretary was supposed to hand over the document to him, he said.

The prosecutor replied that he would later assist the court on this.

Shah informed the bench that the cypher was received in crypto form and a secret document number was attached to it. The movement of the diplomatic cable is made in a safe container, he said.

What is meant by container, asked the IHC chief justice. The prosecutor replied that it was a leather bag and added that the copy was sent because the receiver after reading informed the government about the intended action.

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The prosecutor added that all the recipients, except the prime minister, returned the cypher copy. He reiterated that he knew Khan had lost the document.

The court adjourned the hearing till April 30 when the prosecutor said he would complete his arguments in three to four proceedings.

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imran khan

Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Islamabad High Court


cipher case